Shack

Waterpistol [1995]

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The genesis of Waterpistol is one of the most convoluted in all of indie pop, and it's one of the genre's most legendary stories. The album was recorded in 1991, but (shades of Tater Totz's Alien Sleestacks from Brazil) the master tapes were destroyed when the studio caught fire. All was not lost, however, as producer Chris Allison had made a DAT safety copy before he left for an American vacation. Unfortunately, not knowing about the fire, Allison inadvertently left his DAT in his rental car. Amazingly, he was able to track it down with the help of the car rental company, but given that Shack's record company had gone under and the band had split up in the interim, the album didn't come out until the German label Marina Records rescued it in 1995. Like an acoustic-oriented version of the first Stone Roses album (or perhaps a less '60s-obsessed La's), Waterpistol mixes shimmering jangle pop tunes with leader Michael Head's alternately wistful and depressive lyrics. Melancholy without being overwhelmingly sad, Waterpistol includes a number of remarkably strong songs, like the relatively cheery "Mood of the Morning" and the achingly wistful ballads "Undecided" and "London Town," all of which top anything Head's previous combo, the Pale Fountains, managed. Though its non-release at the time was an exacerbating influence on Head's temporary descent into drugs and depression, Waterpistol is one of those rare "lost" albums that's actually as good or better than the hype suggests. This may actually be better than the more lauded H.M.S. Fable.

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